There was a profound and moving article in the New York Times Style Section Sunday (2 August, 2009) by Laura Munson. She describes her married life humming along and then, just like that, her husband declares, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. . . .” This is not a fight-for-your-husband story. It is not a “throw-the-bum-out” story. It is much more complex.
Munson describes the bitter/hard edge of truth and revelation this way:
“You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “The End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.”
How she handles her situation is interesting. Not with great heroics or drama, certainly not with any cunning and schadenfreude found on any show that starts with the title “The Housewives of . . ” Munson handled it with calm. That shocked me the most. She stayed calm. Oh, I’m sure she cried and despaired at times, but she kept moving ahead.
It brought to mind a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet: “A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.” And that made more sense, from both perspectives, her’s and her husband’s.
There is another line from Rilke: “No feeling is final.” We can change our minds. It happens as we grow, change, evolve, devolve, love and hate in turn. We can feel everything we need to feel before we know how we want to feel and cling to that emotion.
God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.
These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.
Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.
Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.
– Rainer Maria Rilke
–Quinn McDonald is a writer, life- and creativity coach. She teaches communication skills, including writing and giving presentations as well as how to make and use an art journal, even if you can’t draw.